I started this blog long after I returned from Nigeria in March of last year. I feel a need to say something about my trip, though I know I speak of it often. This is quite long.
More and more over the past week or two I have been reminded of my experience and what it meant to me. Having a memory that seems to fade all too quickly, I fear losing the memory of the sights, smells, textures, emotional exhaustion, joy, wonder, and peace that bombarded me in Jos.
I can still see it all so clearly, feel it all as well, picturing myself walking across the tiled floor of the common room at our hostel and feeling the coolness under my feet, feeling my skirt against my legs, smelling the wonderful food cooking in the kitchen and hearing the laughter of the cooks as they worked so diligently. Sitting with Steph and talking about the trip, our experiences, home; hanging out with the girls as they created birthday signs for Mike. Sitting on the swing, watching the girls and Zac jump on the trampoline, doing back flips, talking about what they enjoyed about the trip and how it was to come to an end all too soon.
Walking through the Bush village with Steph after our climb, surrounded by children, hearing no English, meeting all the elders of the village. Seeing the flies swarm around the sugarcane, wondering how long we'd actually been gone. The look on Samson's face when he "found" us - the look on Jane's face when we got back to the vans. The numbing cold of the night as we slept in tents. The darkness that surrounded and engulfed us as we slept far from any man-made light. The laughter in our tent, the rooster that crowed all too often and all too soon for my liking. Walking out into the trees as dawn began to creep over the horizon, covered in the same haze that covered everything constantly.
Maneuvering through the narrow passages of Blind Town, taking countless pictures and letting the kids see themselves on the screen. Standing by, waiting for our group to move on, smelling a pot of rice, hearing the movement of the livestock behind me and the laughter of the children beyond where I could see. Watching people crawl along the dirt caked corridors, dreading the thought of what it must look like during the rainy season.
First driving from the airport at Abuja to Jos, seeing Africa - this small corner of it - for the first time. The sights, the smells, the constant haze. The van rides were fun for me - a chance to see more of the country as well as time spent with our team.
Worshiping with Nigerian brothers and sisters. Hearing their rich, strong voices fill the church. Listening to the boys at Transition House sing - praises to our God, songs I knew well and songs they themselves had written. Standing in a long, narrow building, it felt much like an oven, clapping to the music that rose from the mouths of Jos prison inmates - 30 minutes without a pause. Standing, my team behind me, and giving my testimony to these men, someone translating it into Hausa at my side. The peace I felt was God-given and strong.
There are so many other memories: VBS, the hospital, EMS, beef jerky and Goldfish, Purel, Malaria meds, 2 litre water bottles, Bill Cosby, Internet cafes, shopping for fabric and jewelry, sitting in the hallway journaling while Steph slept, the Irish missionaries visiting, meals, meetings, speed scrabble, listening to Zac play his guitar, watching Ice Age 2, the ants in the carpet, the mosquitoes everywhere, Deet, the massive amounts of people, the smell of burning trash, a picnic on the rocks, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a bridge that miraculously holds the weight of a fully loaded bus, a ceiling fan that reached velocities that matched a gale force wind, dancing, laughing, singing, eating, walking, praying, learning.
I learned a lot on the trip and afterwards - if you're interested, I'll share it with you. The Lord is tremendously faithful and good beyond description.
It sounds hokey, but true for me, when I say, Africa gets in your blood.